Supposed author of a collection of Greek fables, almost certainly a legendary figure. Though Herodotus, in the 5th century BC, said that he was an actual personage, Aesop was probably no more than a name invented to provide an author for fables centring on beasts. Aesopian fables emphasize the social interactions of human beings, and the morals they draw tend to embody advice on how to deal with the competitive realities of life. The Western fable tradition effectively begins with these tales. Modern editions list some 200 Aesopian fables.
Aesop, with a fox, from the central medallion of a kylix, c. 470 BC; in the Gregorian
—Alinari/Art Resource, New York
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